Developing your skills as a budding tattoo artist takes time, effort, and patience. There is no official university placement you can take that will ease you into the trade – you must source a specialist course or join an apprenticeship program. 

Essentially, you can pick up the basics in a controlled learning environment, but a lot of the real artistry will come from repeated practice – both in your own time and with paying customers.

Thankfully, visions of amateur tattooists making mistakes on real people are wide off the mark – while mistakes do happen, a lot of the learning will come from the drawing stage.

Indeed, developing your fundamental art skills will serve you well as a tattooist. Learning how to draw accurately and then practicing it over and over again will help improve your inking hand. It will also train your muscle memory, which is where a lot of accomplished artists derive their brilliance.

This is how to develop your skills as a tattoo artist:

Make sure you have the correct equipment

The first step you need to take as a fledgling tattoo artist is to ensure you have all the tools you need. 

If you manage to land an apprenticeship, then a lot of the equipment will inevitably be provided by the artist you are shadowing, but it is still a good idea to source your own.

Tattoo ink, needles and machines are all items you will require if you want to perform a basic tattoo, so look at pricing and buy what you can, when you can.

The faster you can source the right tools, the sooner you can start practicing.

Receive formal training

If you want to become a tattoo artist, then you need to become qualified. 

The best way to do this is to attend a tattoo course or obtain a license that demonstrates your skill as a tattoo artist. While there are no university courses in tattoo artistry, you may find more specialized programs that teach you the basics.

Serve an apprenticeship

Arguably the most useful approach to developing your tattoo artistry skills is to serve an apprenticeship with an established artist. 

The reason for this is that there is no substitute for learning on the job. When you are shadowing a professional, you will learn everything from the inking process itself to aftercare, preparing tools, and interacting with customers.

This last point is important because many people will be nervous about getting a tattoo – especially if it is their first design. Having the necessary people skills to calm their nerves, make them feel at ease, and collaborate on designs are crucial strings to your bow. 

Draw your own designs

Finally, you should continually hone your artistic skills by drawing your own designs. 

Not only does this unlock some of your creative energy, but it will also help to hone your hand-eye coordination and improve your accuracy.

The more you complete simple tasks like this, the faster you will ingrain the necessary skills it takes to become a professional tattoo artist.